When to Go to Switzerland

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When to Go to Switzerland

In July, Switzerland's best weather coincides with the heaviest crowds. August often sees high temperatures but also can be rainy. June and September are pleasant, and hotel prices can be slightly lower, especially in resorts. In May and June, the mountains are at their loveliest, with Alpine flowers blooming and the peaks capped with snow; however, as ski season is over and high summer hasn't begun, this is often considered low season, and many resort hotels close down. Those that remain open reduce their prices considerably. Another low-season disadvantage: some cable car and cogwheel train operations take a break between the midwinter and midsummer rushes; some must wait for snow to clear before reopening. The most prestigious ski resorts charge top prices during the Christmas–New Year holidays but reduce them slightly in early January. February through Easter is prime time again. Late autumn—from mid-October through early December—is the least appealing season for visiting the Alps because there's usually little snow, no foliage, and a tendency toward dampness and fog. If you stick to the cities to shop and tour museums, you won't notice the doldrums that take over the resorts.

The only exception to the rules of thumb above: the Ticino, which lies south of the Alps, boasts a Mediterranean climate and declares high season from April through October. Many of its hotels close down altogether from November through March.

Climate

Summer in Switzerland generally lasts from July to September and tends to be mild, although night temperatures can be chilly in some locations. At high altitudes, the air remains crisp on even the hottest summer days. Beautiful fall foliage begins to lose its grip on the trees by the end of October, when the autumn rains usually sweep through the country. Snow can make its first appearance in November, which is usually foggy. Cold temperatures kick in from January to March, often dropping below freezing.

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